Friday, November 2, 2012
The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli
Barnes & Noble
Need to seize a country? Have enemies you must destroy? In this handbook for despots and tyrants, the Renaissance statesman Machiavelli sets forth how to accomplish this and more, while avoiding the awkwardness of becoming generally hated and despised.
For nearly 500 years, Machiavelli's observations on Realpolitik have shocked and appalled the timid and romantic, and for many his name was equivalent to the devil's own. Yet, The Prince was the first attempt to write of the world of politics as it is, rather than sanctimoniously of how it should be, and thus The Prince remains as honest and relevant today as when Machiavelli first put quill to parchment, and warned the junior statesman to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.
I don't like giving a classic such a low rating, but this book just didn't do anything for me. Maybe it's because I don't know much about late 15th century & early 16th century European politics.
I do feel bad for Machiavelli, though: he doesn't seem terribly evil; he's just accumulated a wealth of knowledge from seeing what others have accomplished. He's more of a strategist and historian.